Big Feet, Tight Boat

This is a follow-up to my previous posts threatening to sell my Shearwater 17 because my size 11 paddling shoes have no wiggle room. I also had problems getting in and out of the boat because I am 6'-4", 200+ lbs and 68 years old. I made three mods that seem to have solved the problems. First I cut off the thigh pads since my knees fit well under the deck without them. That made a huge difference, not only in getting in and out, but I can now pull a leg up to avoid cramps when I need to. Second, I made a foot pad out of 3" foam and glued it to the forward bulkhead. It is full thickness at the bottom and up the vertical center, tapering in two directions to 1" thick at the shear panels. This pad supports my whole foot and lets me move around a bit. The foot pegs remain in case a shorter paddler wants to use the boat - I just slide them back out of the way. Third, I moved the seat pad back an inch and tightened up the back band. I found that even minor adjustments in the back band made a big difference in how my legs fit. I spoke with both Nick and Eric Schade at the WoodenBoat Show this morning, and they thought these three actions should be enough, but also suggested enlarging the cockpit opening, which I am loathe to do because it would be a whole lot of work. I still plan to sell this boat, but not until next season after I build one of Eric's Merganser 17Ws, which is similar to the Shearwater, but an inch wider and higher.

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